Feeding for Misbehavior

Willowtrail Farm Fell Ponies“Feeding for Temperament” was an article in the last issue of The Partnered Pony™ Inquirer.  So when I saw an article this morning in Equus magazine on the same topic, it caught my attention.  While my article was about feed choices we can make that improve our ponies’ temperaments, the Equus article was about feed choices that can lead to misbehavior.

A study was done on Pony Club mounts in Australia.  “The data showed that misbehavior was associated with supplemental feeding of concentrates, grain or roughage to horses who also were allowed to graze and [had] a body condition score of 4 (moderately thin) or greater.” (1)  The study also revealed that most of the equines were overfed and that the majority of misbehavior (bucking, pulling at the bit, general resistance to aids) occurred during periods of infrequent use.  Researcher Petra Buckley summarized, “We noticed that many horses were ridden infrequently, and the combination of subsequent lack of training, education and fitness is not a recipe for success.” (2)

As a pony enthusiast, I cringe whenever I hear ponies criticized.  I’ve always believed that pony misbehavior could be attributed in part to improper feeding practices, so I’m glad to now have some science to back up my opinion!

  1. Barakat, Christine, and Mick McCluskey.  “Fat and Sassy?”, Equus, Volume 428, May 2013, p. 11.
  2. Barakat, p. 12

©Jenifer Morrissey, 2013


About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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